Common Centaury Centaureum erythraea [Lesser Centaury, Feverwort; Culpeper: Centaurea cyanus]
The wound-mending and blood-staunching properties of centaury were known to the ancient Greeks, and in Europe it was traditionally used as a panacea for almost ever kind of ailment and health concern, including malaria. Externally, in the form of a lotion, it was reputed to remove freckles and facial blemishes. Culpeper said that "the herb is so safe you cannot fail in the using of it" adding, with reference to the herb's bitter taste, "it is very wholesome, but not very toothsome."
Centaury was used to flavour herbal teas, wines and adult drinks.
Centaury is reputedly named after Chiron, the centaur of Greek mythology, who used the herb to mend himself of a wound contaminated by the blood of the many-headed serpent, Hydra. In The Boke of Secretes of Albartus Magnus of the Vertues of Herbes, Stones, and Certain Beastes, printed by William Copland in 1560, it was claimed that if centaury "be joined with the blood of a female lapwing or black plover and be put with oil in a lamp, all they that compass it about shall believe themselves to be witches so that one shall believe of another that his head is in heaven and his feet on earth." The plant was listed by Aelfric.
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Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
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